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ATL@WSH: Livan tosses 6 1/3 frames of two-run ball

Wednesday's game between the Nationals and Marlins at Sun Life Stadium features two starting pitchers who know quite a bit about the opposing team.

Nationals right-hander Livan Hernandez, of course, began his Major League career with Florida, helped pitch the Marlins to the World Series title in 1997, and is now in his second stint with the Nationals, pitching in the same division as his former team.

Marlins righty Chris Volstad, meanwhile, made five starts against Washington last year and went 4-0, although his 5.28 ERA showed that he had plenty of run support.

For Hernandez, a repeat of his ninth career Opening Day start wouldn't be a bad thing, although the Nationals would like the results to change. Hernandez went 6 1/3 innings that day, giving up two runs and taking a hard-luck 2-0 loss to Atlanta.

One thing Hernandez did like was the defense behind him. New acquisitions Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche made diving plays to keep the score close.

"We were working hard in Spring Training, trying to get the defense to get better from last year," Hernandez said. "We are working hard. We are doing what we are supposed to do. Everyone is playing hard to get better."

Werth did commit a key error Tuesday, dropping a fly ball in the 10th inning of the Nats' loss to the Marlins.

Hernandez is 13-10 in 31 career starts against the Marlins, but he's 0-3 with a 4.25 ERA in his last five starts against Florida.

Volstad, on the other hand, is ready for this outing after throwing in a Minor League game last Thursday in Jupiter. In that game, he was struck by a comeback one-hopper that hit him in the left ankle and forced him to exit after five innings.

He said he's fine and eager to face Washington, whom he's more than familiar with -- even the new guys.

"They have a couple of new faces, but one of them is Werth, and I faced him a bunch of times," Volstad said. "It's definitely a team that I know pretty well, and they know me pretty well. You know what a person is trying to do. ... It's a matter of trying to execute."

Nationals: Burnett on a roll
Dating to Aug. 26, 2010, lefty reliever Sean Burnett has worked 20 consecutive scoreless innings, which is the second-longest such string of scoreless relief since Major League Baseball came back to Washington, D.C., in 2005. Burnett allowed the Marlins to score the game-winning run Tuesday, but the run was charged to Drew Storen. Burnett is now three outs shy of matching John Lannan's current Nationals record. Lannan threw 21 straight scoreless innings from April 17-May 2, 2008. In Burnett's 20 consecutive scoreless innings, which span 18 appearances, he is 1-0 with three holds, two saves, three walks, 19 strikeouts and six double plays.

• Danny Espinosa is off to a quick start. He went 4-for-9 (.444) with two doubles and one RBI in three games against the Braves before going hitless in one at-bat Tuesday against Florida. Espinosa paced the Nationals with 11 extra-base hits (four doubles, one triple, six home runs) during his 28-game big-league stint last September and October.

Marlins: Hanley a Nationals-hitting machine
Since coming into the league in 2006, shortstop Hanley Ramirez leads all active players in games played (89), runs (93) and hits (122) against the Nationals. He is second in home runs (25), behind Ryan Howard's 28, and fourth in average (.357), behind Miguel Cabrera (.414), Albert Pujols (.409) and Carlos Lee (.384).

• The Marlins have two of the most successful hitters off the bench in Wes Helms and Greg Dobbs. Helms ranks as the Marlins' leader in pinch-hits (49), pinch-hit at-bats (179) and pinch-hit RBIs (34), while Dobbs is tied for second in Phillies history in pinch-hit home runs (seven) and fourth in pinch-hits (51).

Worth noting
The Nationals' No. 2 and 3 hitters, Werth and Ryan Zimmerman, are a combined 9-for-26 (.346) with five extra-base hits, seven walks and one hit-by-pitch so far. ... Over the last two seasons, closer Leo Nunez has climbed to fourth on the Marlins' all-time saves list (56), behind Robb Nen (108), Antonio Alfonseca (102) and Kevin Gregg (61).

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